Richard Sapper

(b. 1932)

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(1932– )

German‐born Sapper has been a major force in Italian industrial design circles since the late 1950s. His design work has embraced the full range of industrial products, from lighting and audio‐visual equipment to furniture and kitchenware and from digital watches and business equipment to cars and bicycles. After graduating in engineering design at Munich University in 1955 he went to work in the design department of Mercedes‐Benz from 1956 to 1958 when he moved to Italy, where his engineering background added a new dimension to design thinking. He worked in Gio Ponti's studio before moving on to the department store La Rinascente, for which he designed the Transmaster radio (1959) during his period at the company 1959–61. From the late 1950s to 1977 he also worked very closely with Marco Zanuso, including designs for the Doney 14 (1962) and Algol television sets (1964) for Brionvega, the colourful K 1340 polyethylene children's chair for Kartell (1964), and the Grillo telephone for Siemens (1965). He worked for many other large companies including the Fiat automobile company, for whom he was a consultant from 1970 to 1976, as well as designing for Knoll (including the 1979 Sapperchair) and IBM (including the 1992 Thinkpad laptop and the 1998 9514 LCD monitor). He has also designed a number of design icons including the Tizio desk lamp for Artemide in 1972 and the 9091 kettle for Alessi (1983) with its haunting whistle. Sapper has also been involved with many exhibitions as designer, participant, and subject. In 1968 he organized an exhibition on advanced technologies at the Milan Triennale and, in 1972, participated in the landmark exhibition on Italy: The New Domestic Landscape curated by Emilio Ambasz at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. In 1993 the same museum, an arbiter of international taste‐making, devoted a solo show to his work. Sapper also played a role in design education, teaching at the Hochschule für Angewandte Kunst in Vienna from 1985 and at the Stuttgart Academy of Art from 1986 to 1998. Since 1960 he has also received the prestigious Compasso d'Oro design award nine times.

Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.

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